Making a Short Film: The Sudden Storm

M. Francis Enright
4 min readOct 31, 2023
Photo by Nelson Ndongala on Unsplash

M. Francis Enright is co-creator with John Brancaccio of The Working Experience. Listen to the podcast on iTunes and Spotify and watch videos on Tik Tok. His short film, The Routine, was nominated for Best Dark Comedy at the Georgia Comedy Film Festival. Say Your Name is his third short film.

EXT. BACKYARD-NIGHT

Marcus takes the script from Christina. He reads the monologue.

MARCUS

His music was great…I would listen to it all the time…it would get me into a pumped up emotional state and his lyrics never got old…no one gave him a chance but I think that in today’s world that doesn’t matter; he didn’t give himself the chance to take control of his life. It was fear from doubting himself and it crippled his ambition.

INT/EXT-VARIOUS LOCATIONS-DAY

Various locations. Marcus practices the monologue over and over. Lots of jump cuts. Marcus begins the monologue again playing basketball. He says it over and over, trying to get the nuances correct. He continues it in various locations. In the final shot, Marcus slams the basketball into the ground, walks up to the camera and speaks into the lens and begins reciting his personal dialogue, his truth.

There is a homeless shelter near the studio, Father Bill’s. I had had the brilliant idea that Marcus would perform his dialogue to a group of homeless people. I thought we could hand out $5 to them to get them to gather in a group and watch. While we were rehearsing the scene a homeless woman (different from the one outside the hotel) started propositioning Zair. She said something about his “juicy booty”. Judging from her and the rest of the many homeless milling around, we would have had no problem getting people to watch. However, it would quickly get way out of control. If I ran out of money, there would no telling what would have happened. Rui was grateful that I didn’t pursue it.

We shot Zair practicing in a church parking lot, in the front of an abandoned building, and at a basketball court. The basketball court was the only one that made the final cut. I really want to get better at tightening up the script and not shooting unnecessary scenes, but it happens to the most experienced filmmakers. That’s why there are deleted scenes on DVDs.

Eventually, the monologue he is reciting from Wasted Talent becomes his own. Like Lionel told him from the stage, “You got to make it your own. And you have to believe it! It’s the only way they will.”

EXT. BASKETBALL COURT-DAY

In the final shot, Marcus realizes that the words are not his. He slams the basketball into the ground, walks up to the camera and speaks into the lens and begins reciting his personal dialogue, his truth. This is a dialogue with the camera, with the casting director, with the audience and anyone else who is going to judge him.

The dialogue from Wasted Talent is great. But it isn’t his.

He has to come clean.

The rain came down in buckets. It had not rained in about six weeks, all the lawns were dead. It was Biblical. You got to be kidding me, right? Of all the days.

Rui had said that he would not take the $6,000 camera out in the rain but he did. It looks amazing. I’m not a big believer in karma or god but I guess we were doing something right. Lose the sun and gain the rain. Surreal. How else to describe it, I don’t know.

Rui caught a reflection of Zair in a puddle. Marcus in distortion. A version of Marcus. It’s him but it isn’t him. It looks like a special effect.

It happened by accident. We are using it for the poster.

Yeah man, cause I’m fuckin’ afraid! I’m afraid all the fuckin’ time!

Marcus slams the ball down and walks up to the camera lens to speak directly into it.

Now he is pissed. You’re judging him? Fuck you.

MARCUS (TO CAMERA)

I’m afraid alright! Is that what you wanna hear? I’m afraid I’m a loser! I’m afraid I’m weak! I’m afraid I’m gonna be nothing and no one is ever going to love me! Who would?!!

The truth is? I’m so afraid…

Who is he talking to?

INT. AUDITION ROOM-DAY

Two casting agents sit, stunned by the performance. They have trouble finding the words.

Marcus stares into the camera, wondering at what he just said.

You’ve got to believe. It’s the only way they will.

--

--

M. Francis Enright

Co-creator and cohost of The Working Experience Podcast. We explore what people do for work, how they do it and how they feel about it. Twice a week!